Earlier this month, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals decided a case in favor of a woman whose husband was killed when a gun in his friend’s possession accidentally discharged. The court’s opinion in the case, O’Neal v. Remington Arms Company, held that the plaintiff submitted enough proof of negligence on the part of the gun manufacturer for the case to proceed towards trial.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s written opinion, Remington used a “Walker trigger” in weapons dating back to 1971. At some point between then and now, Remington was made aware that there was a potential defect in the trigger mechanism, and that the gun may fire when the safety is turned off, even though the trigger was not pulled. Remington, knowing this, did not recall the roughly 20,000 rifles affected by the potential hazard and allowed them to remain for sale and in the market.
In 2008, the plaintiff’s husband went hunting with some friends. He loaned his Remington rifle to one of his friends. At some point on the hunting trip, the friend pulled the rifle out when he spotted a deer, and the gun accidentally discharged, killing O’Neal. O’Neal’s wife filed suit against Remington for the negligent design of the trigger mechanism.